External Images

(21 customer reviews)


Store images remotely, use image CDNs, use affiliate images – whatever your situation, External Images lets you use images hosted anywhere and eliminates the heavy load of image download and resizing that would otherwise happen on product imports. This reduces CPU and storage requirements on your website allowing you to grow to whatever size your website should be.

Never have limits on how many images your site can have again. Image storage is the number one thing that slows down product imports and limits the size and scale achievable by affiliate stores or any large stores. With External Images, images can be hosted on any third-party CDN/website and presented on your site as thumbnails, featured images, image galleries, and even product variations.

  • Works with all post types
  • Includes CSS image resizing or Photon on-the-fly image resizing
  • Includes full image gallery support
  • Supports all WooCommerce product types include images per variation and variation galleries
  • Speeds up imports – by avoiding importing images, you massively speed up your imports
  • Scale to millions of products – with no image storage restriction, you can build stores with millions or even billions of products on low-cost hosting
  • Includes support for Datafeedr product comparison tables and preventing Datafeedr from downloading images
  • Supports all import tools that allow you to set a custom meta field (e.g. WP All Import + all popular import tools)

View Changelog

How External Images works

This plugin alters WordPress and WooCommerce to allow you to use images hosted anywhere on the internet, rather than having to have images hosted on your own server. This massively speeds up imports, but it also makes huge million product or more affiliate stores a real possibility since the storage requirement for your million products is eliminated.

This plugin was originally built to allow users of the Datafeedr plugin to build huge affiliate stores without downloading all of the affiliate images to their website, but you don’t need to be a Datafeedr user to benefit.

It alters WordPress by adding a new custom meta tag to all post types called external_image_url. It then adds hooks and filters to all the various WordPress functions for generating thumbnails, featured images and galleries and replaces that code with code which pulls the images from your external sources.

It works with ALL post types but it also integrates tightly with Datafeedr out of the box and prevents Datafeedr from downloading the images as part of their product set import. It also overrides the other Datafeedr widgets, including the Comparison Sets to ensure they pull images from your external images instead of displaying placeholders.

It’s compatible with any import plugins, including WP All Import so you can massively speed up your imports by importing images to a custom meta field (called external_image_url) instead of as featured images. This keeps images off your server and on the CDN source. This speeds up imports because when WordPress imports an image, it imports multiple image sizes – frequently, this can be 20 or more sizes, and with the External Images plugin the CPU usage that would normally be used to create these size varieties is completely avoided.

You additionally get a new field in the post/product editor below the featured image area where you can view and edit the external image URL, so it can be used without import plugins if you wish.


The following features are included in the External Images plugin:

  • Provides new ‘external_image_url’ field on post and product pages which will overrule ‘featured image’
  • Uses external image URL (e.g. from third-party CDN or affiliate CDN) on archive pages (thumbnails), post and product pages
  • Includes code tailored to help Datafeedr users and stop Datafeedr from downloading images when users browse your site – speeds up Datafeedr sites as a result.
  • Works with product variations as well as simple and external products. Does not handle different images per variation yet.
  • Avoids the need for your server to download images and resize them. Saves disk and CPU and massively speeds up imports involving images.
  • Automatically proxies HTTP images (insecure images) through your server if you are running HTTPS.
  • Integrates perfectly with Datafeedr Product Comparison plugin allowing those images to be external images and proxying them through your SSL/HTTPS if required.
  • Because the images are hosted externally, resizing & cropping of images is restricted to what you can do with CSS (upgrade coming soon to help with this)
  • Includes gallery support – add multiple image URLs to the external_image_url field and this plugin will convert them into an image gallery
  • Includes support to check 3 different fields and pull the largest image – perfect for Datafeedr users, as it automatically finds the largest source image
  • Includes open-graph tags so twitter, facebook and google see your featured images
  • Includes CSS resizing and cropping so that even though your images are hosted off-site, they will still fit perfectly with your theme.
  • Allows you to use external image URLs instead of featured images in WordPress (i.e. you don’t need to store images on your server)

Theme Compatibility

External Images is compatible with most themes directly out of the box. If your theme is not compatible straight out of the box, it means your theme is probably accessing the database directly to grab images, rather than the officially approved way of using thumbnail functions.

In any case, if your theme is not compatible yet, let us know and we will add compatibility specifically for your theme.


Upload the plugin zip file using wp-admin->Plugins->Add New->Upload. Activate the plugin.

Now either visit your product pages and enter the external URLs manually, or using your preferred import tool you can import the image URLs to the ‘external_image_url’ field.

For image galleries, insert all image URLs into the external_image_url field separated by commas.

If you are using Datafeedr, External Images will automatically handle importing images to the correct field and avoid downloading images.

Datafeedr Users

Install and activate and now datafeedr will not download images. If you’ve already downloaded a whole bunch of images, you will have to delete these somehow. The easiest way is to temporarily move the product sets to the trash, wait for the products to be deleted and then restore the product sets from the trash and Datafeedr will re-import the product details, this time without the images.

Visit any archive/shop/product/post page where there is no featured image, and if you look at the image source you will find it’s coming from the affiliate CDN, and not from your server.

WP All Import Users

Install and activate and then in your import, import image url(s) to a custom field called external_image_url. Select the option “Don’t import images” and then run your import. Your import will run far more quickly since WordPress is not downloading and creating multiple sizes of your images. Instead, it’s simply populating the external_image_url field.

Visit any archive/shop/product/post page, inspect the images and you’ll find they’re coming from your external source.

Manual use

Visit the post/product editor page and below the featured image you will find an external image URL field you can edit. If you place an image URL in here, WordPress will display that image for your thumbnails and featured image instead of storing images locally.

external image main text image


21 reviews for External Images

4.6 out of 5
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  1. Lali O. (verified owner)

    Thank you for this plugin, it is really very necessary plugin! No images on my hosting! I am really happy! I have store with more than 1 000 000 goods, and I do not need Big space disk for images.

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  2. Luigi N. (verified owner)

    Super plugin with an impressive support. Thank you!

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  3. Erik D. (verified owner)

    I both save space and got better speed on my site.

    My friend is on shared host and for him it did a big difference.

    Works out of the box and no hassel with setup.

    This plugin it great.

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  4. ming ming s. (verified owner)

    I’ve been looking for this kind of plugin to speed up my web for months . I have to admit It bothered me for a long time. And it’s so wired I didn’t find any one (no matter a free or paid one) until I watched the video of this plugin “external images” on youtube. At first, I thought this might be a plugin like others just supporting embedding pictures, not storing on remote vps. After watched the video, I knew this is the one I’ve been looking for. Now I can store all the pictures (thousands) on amazon s3 for my website, and don’t need to worry about the loading speed of my website. This is the best plugin ever!

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  5. Berkay K. (verified owner)

    Since HTTPS became standart I was having trouble compiling with https rules on my woocommerce site, since my images are hosted on a non-https server. With External images my non-https images become https via proxy on my server.
    Altough it did not work immediately as I install it due to a problem on my word press theme, great support from Dave and his team kicked in and solved the problem on the theme.
    Great Plugin, Great Team, Great Support…
    Many thanks!

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  6. Digital D. (verified owner)

    Unfortunately this plugin doesn’t work on my websites. I have asked for the refund and I’m waiting, but nobody is answering.

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    • Dave H.

      Hi – sorry for the delay – there’s an upgrade out today which should fix any issues you are experiencing.

      I’m now working on documentation for External Images for the rare themes that do not use the correct functions to grab thumbnails etc – even with these themes, External Images will work but with those it will take a little modification to your child theme.

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  7. Ida Nielsen

    Some time ago I bought this plugin and it always worked smoothly. Recently there were some WordPress updates and my website broke (probably because of the Gutenberg editor addition).

    I contacted the support/developer (Dave) and in few days my problem was completely solved! The plugin is now even better than before and I’m sure it will keep improving.

    To sum up, I definitely recommend this External Images plugin, by far the best in the market!

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    • Dave H.

      Hi – thank you for your kind comments, and thank you for your help improving the plugin šŸ™‚

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  8. savvas z. (verified owner)

    I was looking to make my wordpress site faster. I ended buying/using scalability pro. Excellent product, amazing performance for my site. After importing thousands of products my server lagged due to the enormous amount of images that i imported. External images to the rescue!!!! With the external images i keep my server clean and my site super fast!!! No more unnecessary thumbnails.
    By the way support from Dave is first class!! Top notch developer!! Top notch support!
    Highly recommended plugin!!! AAA
    Thanks Dave for the awesome plugins and support!!!!

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  9. Markus P. (verified owner)

    Bought external images and scalability pro. 5 stars for both of them. Thank you for these superb plugins which really boosted my website speed and product imports.

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  10. kasa k.

    I love how fucking fast External Images when I import a lot image without need the CDN server.

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    • Dave H.

      Thanks! That’s the primary reason I built it. That and the ability to have millions of products in your affiliate store without the need for massive amounts of storage space.

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  11. nokivcon


    For Woocommerce to have multiple image links, so that multiple images can be shown, will the plugin accommodate?

    Also do you have any suggestions for any services that allow to upload product images along with a metadata like the SKU, which we can export to a csv/spreadsheet time to time to get the matching image URLs for a product SKU?

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    • Dave H.

      The current live version allows featured images and gallery images.

      The current beta version has above (improved editor) as well as variation images.

      I’m working on adding variation gallery images too into beta.

      re: SKU, WooCommerce has a field you can set for SKU. A good import tool is WP All Import.

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  12. Stuart J. (verified owner)

    Thanks, this plugin is excellent and does exactly what it says!

    Our webhosting provider is one of those that offers ‘unlimited’ storage space, but in very tiny print states that there is a ‘technical’ limit on the number of files you can have in your account.

    We use multi-channel listing software, and all our images are already uploaded to their own image servers, so it makes sense to use the images from there rather than have them uploaded to our website hosting as well.

    Now with this plugin, I don’t need to worry about finding a new hosting provider or file storage limits, and concentrate instead on adding even more products to our Woo Shop.

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    • Dave H.

      Thank you for your review and I’m glad to hear about another area where this plugin is popular. I hope you find the recent updates useful too – we added variation images and variation galleries as well as image preview in the admin area and better compatibility with theme magnifying glasses etc.

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  13. Kerstin K. (verified owner)

    I wait now over 1 Month for support. Nothing works, no support.

    Please give me a refund.

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    • Dave H.

      Sorry for your poor experience, August had me pulled in all directions.

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  14. Fabio (verified owner)

    For big blog it’s a must have in order to increase speed page and reduce hosting disk space

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  15. Daniel A. (verified owner)

    My site breathed after using this plugin with the server, because it allows you to import products through product import plugins without downloading photos / images to the server. And it also gives the possibility to add a thumbnail to the product or the entire gallery through links to external images, and thus, if we have, for example, several pages, we can use one image on many pages. Without this plugin, we would have to add the same image on each of our wordpress pages. Useful plug.

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  16. Joseph Miller (verified owner)

    No joke I initially got this plugin so I could experiment with scaling Woocomerce. Fell in love with it. I have roughly 2100 products In my current project. I have the archive set to 16 products per page. On any given archive page total sizes less then 400 kb. It’s wild you would never be able to tell the images were not your own. Instantly load. Hats off to the team. Seriously doubt I will ever start another project with out incorporating it.

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  17. Joseph Miller (verified owner)

    F&cK*&^ Amazing Plugin no joke. Not stressed about cropping and compressing anything. Thanks guys.

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  18. Gary C (verified owner)

    I have been looking a very long time for a plugin that does what this plugin does! Amazing support and answers to my questions. Thank you!

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  19. MARCUS F. (verified owner)

    Purchased the external images plugin which was superb. Needed some bespoke work so it was compatible with a third party plugin and Dave was only to happy to help and in record time. Very happy.

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    • Dave H.

      Thank you, glad to be able to help and very happy that everyone is happy with our Discord server for support šŸ™‚

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  20. Mark (verified owner)

    I’m impressed. I wasn’t sure I would be able to accomplish what I needed with my images. I’m hosting images on my site for SEO purposes. On product upload, I don’t need WP to download those images and create multiple versions that a browser could serve (more images served = slower website load). Since I’ve optimized my images I want WordPress to use those images. With the external images plugin, I’m able to upload my images via FTP. Then I upload a reference to those images in the product upload file. Also, support is fantastic. My theme had a slight issue with external images. Dave personally looked into it and was able to quickly resolve the issue for me.

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  21. Dasar G. (verified owner)

    External Images allowed me to import products at 6x the speed! Great plugin as are Dave’s other plugins, and fantastic support. He will make updates to the plugin within days to fix any issues you may run into. 5/5, highly recommend.

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